Police have found human remains in their search for British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira after two fishermen confessed to killing them in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil’s justice minister says.
“I have just been informed by @federal police that human remains were found at the site where excavations were being carried out,” Anderson Torres said on Twitter.
Federal police will hold a news conference in Manaus at 7.30pm on Wednesday (0930 AEST on Thursday).
The two suspects confessed to killing and dismembering the two men, who went missing on June 5, TV Globo reported earlier, citing police sources.
Police identified the suspects as fisherman Amarildo da Costa, known as “Pelado”, who was arrested last week on weapons charges, and his brother Oseney da Costa, 41, or “Dos Santos”, who was taken into custody on Tuesday night.
The suspects’ family have denied they had any role in the men’s disappearance. Public defenders representing the brothers could not immediately be reached for comment.
The reports suggest a grim conclusion to a case that has raised global alarm, hanging over President Jair Bolsonaro at a regional summit and stirring concern in the British Parliament on Wednesday.
Phillips, a freelance reporter who has written for The Guardian and The Washington Post, was doing research for a book on the trip with Mr Pereira, a former head of isolated and recently contacted tribes at federal Indigenous affairs agency Funai.
They were in a remote jungle area near the border with Colombia and Peru called the Javari Valley. It is home to the world’s largest number of uncontacted Indigenous people.
The region has been invaded by illegal fishermen, hunters, loggers, and miners, and police call it a key route for drug trafficking.
The brothers were seen meeting on the Itacoai river just moments after Phillips and Mr Pereira passed by on June 5, returning to the riverside town of Atalaia do Norte, a witness told federal police in a report seen by Reuters.
The police report said witnesses heard Mr Pereira say he had received threats from Amarildo da Costa.
A former official for Indigenous affairs agency Funai, Mr Pereira had been instrumental in stopping illegal gold mining and fishing by poachers on rivers inhabited by Indigenous tribes of the Javari.